Finally, Perfected

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11-5-13 053

2 1/2 cups flour (20-30% whole wheat; rest unbleached; many experts recommend fancy brands but I use generic)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
About 12 ounces water (I use cold from refrigerator; cold slows the rising process, which is preferred)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

  • I use my breadmaker on the dough setting.  You could use a doughmaker/hook if you have it.  It could be mixed by hand but it would be a mess/pain.
  • Put 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour in the basin (I include one scoop/half cup whole wheat here).  Put the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bin (I have read that if they mix the salt could harm the yeast).
  • Turn the machine on and immediately pour a splash of water in.  Add two quick “pours” (maybe two teaspoons each) olive oil.  Keep adding small splashes of water as it mixes.  Then add another half cup flour while still adding small splashes of water.  Add final half cup of flour, all the while adding small bits of water.  Let it mix, adding small bits of water and/or flour until it creates a dry dough ball.  (My breadmaker doesn’t mix perfectly–flour may stick to the sides or edges of the bottom; use fingers or a spatula to get it all to mix thoroughly; if it is not mixing well take the ball out and massage the ball by hand).  Do this until it is mixed well–not sure, it may take about ten minutes.
  • Turn the bread machine off and unplug it.  Close it.  Simply let it sit until the dough rises for about two hours, depending on the activity of the yeast used (many pizza recipes will say let it double in size).
  • After it has risen turn the breadmaker on again on the dough setting.  Let the dough kneed for a few minutes (about 3-4 minutes).
  • THIS IS THE KEY STAGE for fluffy and crispy dough.  I use four 8″x8″ aluminum pans.  Grease the pans with olive oil.  Cut the dough into quarters.  Holding the dough gently form into an approximate square and place into each pan.  Go back to the first pan you filled–after it sits for a couple of minutes it will be soft again.  Gently form into the entire pan.   Do this for all four pans/doughs.  Place them on racks in a turned-off oven and let them rise.  To speed the process the oven can be turned-on very briefly to create warmth.
  • Bake each at 350 degrees for 9 minutes (it is not necessary to pre-heat the oven).  (I open the oven door frequently and rotate them; I don’t want it to be too hot or uneven).
  • After baking let each one cool for a couple of minutes and then remove them by turning the pan over and pulling the edges of the pan until the dough falls out onto a rack.
  • To make pizza preheat oven (my convection oven only goes to 450 degrees).  Place the pre-cooked dough on a black cookie sheet.
  • Dress the pizza and cook for 12 minutes (turn halfway through).
  • I believe the pizza is best “upside down,” i.e., toppings on bottom (if meat), then cheese, then sprinkled pizza sauce and spices.  Vegetables (e.g., green peppers and onions) typically cook better if placed on top.
  • Final words:  If the dough is really good relatively few toppings, and not a whole lot of sauce and cheese is necessary or even desirable.
  • Quickie:  Sauce is 1/2 generic/cheap pasta sauce, 1/2 crushed tomato; add oregano/Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, olive oil, garlic.

For alternate dough-making method click here.

  • After it is mixed turn the machine off and let the dough sit (in the warm, closed machine) for 10-15 minutes.  This is important.  This is like kneeding the dough; it will not rise properly without this step.
  • Then turn the machine on (same dough setting) and mix the dough for about 2 minutes.  When done, take it out and massage/mix it by hand just by holding it (e.g., pull it, make it round, etc.).
  • I use a glass Pyrex bowl with a lid or a large Tupperware bowl with a lid for this next step (you could use a bowl lightly covered with plastic wrap; the Pyrex bowl is good because it has a lid but it doesn’t really seal airtight).  Sprinkle some olive oil in the bowl (maybe 1/2 to 3/4’s of a tablespoon).  Put the dough in the bowl and, I use a fork, to move the dough around and coat the entire ball (I flatten it a little like a very thick pancake) with olive oil (this prevents a crust from developing over time).
  • Just set the bowl in a room temperature spot.  Again, the lid is on loosely (I don’t think a sealed Tupperware lid matters though).  I put a towel/cloth napkin over it to keep it dark.  Let it rise for about 2 hours (many pizza recipes will say let it double in size).  (I have read much about this and many people say slower rising is more flavorful dough.  Some say put it in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight or even for two days; but always let it rise/get back to room temperature before preparing).  Or, simply use what you want and store the rest in the refrigerator.
  • After rising the dough is ready to prepare.  Note:  I’m not sure if it is exactly 2 1/2 cups flour or 12 ounces of water–it is around those amounts but it is just about making a thoroughly mixed dough ball.  This amount will make approximately 5 thin 12-14″ pizzas, 4 medium thickness pizzas, or 2 large thick pizzas (i.e., “Detroit style” like the Little Caesar’s Deep Deep, maybe 1″ thick).  You can play around and make it however you like.  After the dough rises it will be somewhat moist; you can bake it as is or kneed it with sprinkled flour–more flour will make it crustier and drier.  I will make different style pizzas to fit my mood.  (Note:  I have read that you should try and avoid rolling pizza dough with a rolling pin; hand stretched (tossing isn’t necessary) is best.)
  • This is probably the best.  I have a–I think it is about 14″-square pan.  Cut the rised dough in half using a pizza cutter.  Grease the pan thoroughly with olive oil (pour it in and swirl it around works fine).  Shape the dough half into an approximate square, put it in the pan, and push it to the edges.  If you’re not in a hurry put the pizza doughs in a “off” oven or microwave and let them sit and rise.  (They could sit for a few hours or more; at some point the yeast will lose it’s rising ability); if you don’t want to wait bake it for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees; it’ll rise better if you do not preheat the oven.  If you have let them sit and rise you can bake them pretty much how you want–10-12 minutes (really hot, less).  So, you have the pre-baked dough.  Remove it from the pan and put it on a raised grate/oven rack; top it as you like (be careful to stay away from the edges or you’ll have a mess); bake it on an oven rack with oven at full temperature (500 degrees or more if you have it); I use a convection oven that only goes to 450).  Again, on the oven rack with no cookie sheet or pan; best if no rack with foil, etc. under–maximum air circulation is best (especially in convection oven).  Bake until cheese is properly melted/browned.
  • Sugar (or other sweeteners) are not necessary.